There was quite a social whirl at the Institute in its earliest days. And many of the activities would look very familiar to us today, even those that might seem a tad old fashioned. There were endless rounds of dances, teas and dinners, each to their own season of the year. There were sporting events, canoe trips, parties at bay houses and picnics at the beach on Galveston Island. It all seems far away, yet completely understandable.
They called them “kid parties” or “little girl parties” and they were popular for several years in the teens and twenties. Groups of young women, often in the senior class, would don elaborate outfits that mimicked the clothes of small girls, play children’s games, eat cake, and carry dolls. There was much talk of fairies, etc. Many of these young women would be married within just a few years.
It’s hard to know what to make of all this. When I’m looking at these scrapbooks, I see so much that feels familiar, so many things that reveal the roots of the modern Rice, that it can be easy to forget that this was a really, really long time ago. Of all the things I’ve seen in these books, these strange and unsettling pictures make it clearest that this was actually another world, in some ways totally mysterious to us.